How difficult is the property purchase process in Thailand?
Foreigners cannot buy land in Thailand, only condominium units and apartments. Foreigners cannot make up more than 40% of the condominium’s unit-owners. However, a foreigner can buy a whole building, minus the land on which it is built.
In recent years, minor changes in Thai law have allowed nonresidents to explore the Thai real estate market. A foreigner can have a 30-year renewable lease, under which the buyer registers at the Land Office an option to renew the lease contract indefinitely, for further 30-year periods.
There are serious drawbacks, however. Lease renewals cannot be registered, and are not effective against a purchaser of the property. And the lessee cannot (without the lessor’s consent) sublease, sell or transfer his or her interest.
Another option is to set up a private limited company with mixed Thai and foreign ownership, the foreign ownership being 49% or less. Companies are allowed to own land. The foreign national can control the company by using a legal power of attorney from the Thai shareholders, handing control to the foreign directors, or through assigning greater voting rights to the foreigner partner/s. This is an effective and time-tested route, most commonly taken by foreigners. The help of a lawyer is very important.
Foreigners can also invest at least THB40 million (US$1,142,857) in a Board of Investment approved project. They will then be allowed to purchase up to 1 Rai (1,600 square meters) of land.